Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Farewell, Friend

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of Bill Sparr, owner of Sparr's Towing in Missoula, MT for more than 40 years. The 61-year-old passed away on Feb. 18 in his home from natural causes.
Here's the story from about the processional that honored him:
Today, friends, family and peers honored a big name in the Montana tow truck industry.
About 20 tow truck drivers from Butte, Great Falls, Missoula and Kalispell drove in a processional down Russell Street to honor Bill Sparr.
The 61-year-old ran Sparr’s Towing for over four decades in Missoula.
The Montana Tow Truck Association organized the processional. Sparr’s father was one of the original founders.
And Bill Sparr helped write the Tow Truck Act, which outlines basic rules for towing in Montana.

AZ 'Move Over' Amendment Moves Ahead

Thumbs up to AZ lawmakers! Here's the story:

A bill designed to protect tow truck drivers and stranded motorists unanimously cleared the Arizona Senate on Monday with a 30-0 vote.The Roadside Safety Assistance Act, SB 138, aims to amend Arizona's current "Move Over" law to include tow truck drivers and highway maintenance operators as well as the motorists they're assisting.Under the current Move Over law, drivers are required to either move to the next lane over or slow down considerably when passing emergency vehiclesThe bill is sponsored by Sen. John Nelson, R-District 12. It now heads to the state House of Representatives. flashing lights.

CA Towing Receptionist Arrested On Suspicion Of Embezzlement

Here's the Appeal-Democrat story:

A Yuba City towing company employee has been arrested on suspicion of embezzling more than $30,000, according to Yuba City police.

Terri Elizabeth Aguilar, 41, a receptionist at Sanchez Truck Repair and Towing, 20 Wilbur Ave., was arrested Monday afternoon at the company after writing checks to herself totaling $30,352 since May 2008, said police spokeswoman Shawna Pavey.

Aguilar admitted the theft after owner Richard Sanchez noticed an "odd" check and began going through records, Pavey said.

Aguilar was not in custody Tuesday. She is scheduled to be arraigned March 22 in Sutter County Superior Court.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Guilty Plea Entered By Man Who Killed CA Tow Truck Driver In 2008

Tow truck driver Gregory Gerbing died in 2008 after being struck on the side of the road. Here's a 2009 story posted on TowBlog.

Here's the recent Press-Enterprise story on the man who killed him:

Moreno Valley man is expected to be sentenced to 10 years in prison for a drunken driving crash that killed a tow-truck driver.

Oswaldo Lopez, 31, pleaded guilty Friday to one count of DUI gross-vehicular manslaughter in the 2008 death of Gregory Gerbing, 41.

Lopez was originally charged with murder after he crashed his pickup into Gerbing's tow truck on the shoulder of Interstate 215 at the Highway 60 interchange near Box Springs Road.

Gerbing, who worked for Perris-based Smedley Towing, was kneeling on the shoulder of southbound I-215 while clearing an overturned vehicle shortly after midnight. CHP officers were with him when the crash occurred.

In exchange for his plea, prosecutors plan to dismiss the murder charge and three other DUI-related felonies when Lopez is sentenced. His sentencing is scheduled for March 10.

Lopez's attorney, Souley Diallo, said his client wanted to plead guilty to the manslaughter charge earlier, but the murder charge was a sticking point.

The plea agreement reached Friday would give Lopez the maximum sentence possible for the manslaughter charge.

The CHP recommended the murder charge because Lopez is a repeat offender. Lopez was convicted of DUI in December 2007, and his license was reinstated just two months before the deadly crash.

Close Call In CO

Here's the story from

COLORADO SPRINGS - A Springs Tow Truck Driver says he was in a hit and run accident involving a military vehicle. Kim Parsons says he was startled after a truck he was trying to hook up was side swiped, "I crawled up to the front I crawled underneath put my safety chains on and as I was doing that I heard a scraping noise on the side of this vehicle."

When Kim got out from under the truck he says, "I saw a military Hemet speeding away he didn't even slow down or get over when he saw the vehicle." The damage to the truck Kim was towing is estimated around a thousand dollars. Kim says he's shocked a military vehicle hit him and ran off, "I would have thought he would have known better, they stress safety in the military."

Kim says the person responsible has been caught and says the National Guard admits to his company one of their trucks was involved he says, "where I was located at he could have easily killed me."

We went to the Colorado Springs Armory, but were told no one there could speak with us regarding this matter. We did hear a Major with the Guard tell the Operations Manager of the tow truck company that "he would do everything possible to make this situation right." We talked with a public affairs officer from the guard who tells us they are investigating the situation.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

CSA 2010 Worries Some In Trucking Industry

In an early February story from “Transport Topics,” fleet executives and trucking industry watchers have expressed concern about the new Comprehensive Safety Analysis program or CSA 2010.

The program, a federal safety monitoring and rating system for motor carriers, was designed to take the place of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s SafeStat system. Part of CSA 2010 is based on regularly updated information that is provided by electronic onboard recorders, which keep track of drivers’ hours of service. Other parts will be based on drivers' violations.

According to the story,
CSA 2010 sorts safety violations into seven categories — which FMCSA calls BASICS — that cover drivers and equipment. They are: unsafe driving, fatigued driving, driver fitness, drug and alcohol use, cargo securement failures, vehicle defects and crashes.

Unlike the current SafeStat program, which assigns safety ratings based on infrequent compliance reviews by federal auditors, the Department of Transportation’s CSA 2010 program will base safety ratings on carriers’ on-highway performance.

In contrast with SafeStat ratings, which can remain static for years, FMCSA has said that CSA 2010 ratings will be updated monthly to reflect enforcement actions and inspections by local and state law enforcement agencies.

In another departure from the current system, drivers’ violations will affect a carrier’s overall rating.
CSA 2010 is currently being tested by fleets in nine states, with nationwide rollout slated to begin in July and conclude by Dec. 31, according to DOT.

Opponents also cited implementation and the cost of the technology as a problem for some cash-strapped truckers. However, the overall safety goals of CSA 2010 are supported by the American Trucking Association. Read more industry views at Click here to learn more about CSA 2010.

NY Town Weighs Tow Truck Access Law

Here's the story from the Poughkeepsie Journal:
HYDE PARK — The town plans to restrict the arrival of tow truck operators at crash scenes to ensure ambulances and police have sufficient access.

At the request of Hyde Park police Chief Don Goddard, the town has drafted a proposal to establish a rotational tow list. Except for the tow truck dispatched or requested, no others would be permitted within 300 feet of a traffic accident.

"Let us do our jobs," Goddard said.

The proposed regulations have raised objections from tow truck operators in Hyde Park. Some say they frequently perform valuable services at accident scenes before ambulances and police arrive — such as assisting injured or trapped victims and directing traffic — which the 300-foot buffer zone would prevent.

"Three-hundred feet is a long way to yell if you need help," tow truck operator Tim Burns of Hyde Park said. "We should be at hand's reach if they need us."

Hyde Park is not the first town to consider such a restriction. The Town of Poughkeepsie has a policy that establishes a tow list and restricts trucks not at the top of the list from entering a zone around the accident scene.

"It seems to work fairly well," said Poughkeepsie Councilman Todd Tancredi, R-6th Ward.

Hyde Park board members say it has been the practice of some tow truck operators to monitor police radio transmissions and rush to accident scenes with the intent of getting the job towing the disabled vehicles and possibly any repair work.

The arrival of multiple tow trucks at times has hampered the efforts of rescue personnel and impeded police investigations, police said.

"Our only goal is to get the accident scene cleared as soon as possible," Horan said.

Bill Steenbergh, chief of the Roosevelt Fire Department, said while most tow truck operators are more of a help than a hindrance at accident scenes, a law is needed to regulate the few who create access problems.

"The majority of the tow truck drivers have been cooperative," he said. "There are a few bad apples."

The fire chief chided the town board at its workshop meeting for not including the input of any local fire departments in drafting the towing law.

In many cases, fire department rescue squads are the first medical providers at accident scenes. Firefighters also play vital roles in extricating victims trapped in cars at crash scenes, he said.

"It seems like the biggest part of this hasn't been brought into the discussion," Steenbergh said.

Town Supervisor Tom Martino said an upcoming public hearing on the proposed regulations will provide opportunities for input that could lead to changes in law.

"Don't take this as written in stone," he said.

Goddard expressed frustration with the time it's taken for the town to enact a tow list policy. The previous Democratic administration began work last year on a law that drew objections from town truck operators and some residents. The newly elected GOP board drafted a new version of the law in January.

"This has been going on for a year," Goddard said. "It took Thomas Jefferson 17 days to write the Declaration of Independence."

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Update on NE Tower Hit On Sunday

Here's the story from
The owner of a tow truck company thought his coworker and friend was dead after being struck by a car on Sunday near Fremont. It now appears Henry Chillingworth, 64, is going to recover.Mike Stolley and Chillingworth were trying to tow a car near Highway 275 and Highway 36 when the driver of a car lost control in near white-out conditions and came right at them. Stolley was thrown to the ground while Chillingworth took a direct hit.“Just at the time I went and got the chain, here comes this car and Henry saw it coming. He tried to jump out of the way,” Stolley said. “I got out and went back to see how everyone was and I seen Henry laying there and thought, ‘Oh my God.’”Stolley said a snow bank may have saved his friend’s life.“Landing in the snow, it was like a big pillow,” he said.The driver of the car, Brandon O’Meara, told investigators he saw the emergency lights on Stolley’s tow truck, but visibility was so bad he didn’t see them in time. O’Meara later went to Chillingworth’s home to personally apologize.Friends said Chillingworth has undergone several tests. They said he’s doing fine, other than being extremely sore.

Monday, February 15, 2010

VA Residents Praise "Snow Heroes" - Including Towers!

Here's the story from
FALLS CHURCH, Va. - Many people helped us survive the recent snow storms. Some might even call them "snow angels." While the people we talked to Friday joked they wouldn't call themselves heroes, others have called them that.
Billy Vinson with Henry's Wrecker Service has been someone's savior more times than he can count this week. He has pulled cars, trucks, just about anything on wheels, out of some tough spots.

"I think they were pretty relieved to see a tow truck and the fact that we're still getting around they were worried nobody would get to themEven during the worst of the storm when we were told to stay off the roads, he and the rest of Henry's Wreckers rushed to 100 calls.

"You get about 2,3 hours sleep and you're back out again," he shared.

A very tired Vince Cesnauskas has gotten his fare share of thanks, too. Afterall, some might not be able find their cars if it were not for him.

"It takes about like two, maybe a one, and it takes them two, three hours," said Cesnauskas, who operates a front-end loader.

It's these resilient roamers who made a disastrous situation less daunting. They include power crews who are getting the lights back on and plow truck drivers who are making roads passable.

When any true emergencies did arise, Nurse Vanessa Johnson was practically living in the emergency room. It was three-and-a-half days before she finally headed home.

"We're here for the community. This is what we do," stated Johnson. "This is what we signed up for when we went into healthcare."

The power companies shared with us Friday some emails they received from customers who thanked them profusely for promptly fixing any outages. One wrote: "Just like the mailman, your service is taken for granted till it's not available. Thank you for your hard work."

Ex-Employees Come Forward Against MI Towing Co

Here's the story from Newschannel 3 in Kalamazoo, MI:

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – New accusations continue to emerge against a local towing company. Students say T&J Towing is breaking the law and ripping them off. Now, the company's former employees are coming forward and saying, yes, the company is. On Thursday night, the owner of T&J Towing sat down and talked exclusively to Newschannel 3, taking on the accusations. He says everything he does is legal, and now the claims that he's not towing the line are sparking legal action. Since Newschannel 3's story aired on Thursday evening, Arboretum Apartments have eliminated T&J Towing's services, something T&J's owner feels is a direct result of publicity created by the facebook page created by Justin Kurtz. For that reason, T&J and its attorney says they are suing Kurtz for slander / defamation of character and loss of income. Newschannel 3 has not been able to get in touch with Kurtz, but many more people have come forward backing his claims. In addition to four facebook pages with nearly 2,000 members who are anti-T&J, former employees are coming forward to speak against the company. “How often were you told to do things you felt were wrong?” Newschannel 3 asked one T&J employee who wishes to remain anonymous. “About 80 percent of the time,” said the employee. On Friday, Newschannel 3 spoke with two former employees of T&J, both of whom did not want to be identified, saying they fear their former boss, Joe Bird. “Because he's vengeful,” said one employee. “If he finds out who we are he'll most likely have us messed with.” That employee says that one of the most common and potentially damaging claims against T&J to be found in the facebook postings, regarding stealing or moving parking permits, is true. “They have what is called a reach across bar and a wedge, you stick it in the door and you just maneuver the bar in and you knock whatever it is off the window and the car's yours,” said the employee. “I've seen a couple drivers do it.” The employee also says the boss knew about the practice. “He'd laugh about it and say do it as much as possible,” said the employee. Another former employee says part of the reason for cutting corners and even breaking laws was a strict quota. “Generally Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays it was fifteen cars a night,” said that employee. The other ex-employee Newschannel 3 spoke with said that if the quota wasn't met, payday was delayed or worse. That employee said he had about $200 a week held back from his paychecks. The former employees even claim that the pay was illegal and under the table. “He was gypping me on pay because all of his under the table checks were handwritten,' said the former employee. “Banks wouldn't even cash them cause every time they would they'd bounce.” The claims are shocking, but there is one problem with all of them. “Is there any proof you actually have?” asked Newschannel 3. “No, no proof,” said the former employee. Newschannel 3 spoke again with T&J's owner Joe Bird on Friday night, and even though he doesn't know who the men we spoke with are, he claims they're just disgruntled employees badmouthing his business. Bird also says that threats of violence have begun appearing on the facebook pages that stand against his business. Bird says he now fears for his family's well being. Newschannel 3 will continue to dig into this story.

One Garage, 63 Years & 3 Generations - So Far

Nice profile of this VA tower and family! Here's the story from


Heflin's Garage was a busy spot after it opened on a largely undeveloped stretch of State Route 3 in 1947.

It was one of the few places where tourists headed to the Northern Neck for the weekend could refuel, get their car repaired or ask for a tow.

"That's where I learned everything," said Thad Heflin III, who grew up helping his dad and now runs the family business with help from his son, Thad Heflin IV. "The only gas stations were my father's and Henderson's Grocery down below us. That was it."

Today Heflin's, which moved to Warrenton Road in 1960 when it was displaced by the Blue and Gray Parkway bridge, is the ninth-oldest towing and repair business in Virginia, according to the Virginia Association of Towing & Recovery Operators. It's also among the oldest ones in the country, and is likely to remain so.

"Eventually it will be my turn and privilege to run the family business," said Thad Heflin IV, who has continued family tradition by naming his infant son Thaddeus M. Heflin V.

But all of that lay in the future when Thad Heflin Jr., who'd dropped out of school in the sixth grade to work on nearby farms, came home after World War II looking for work.

He'd learned about motors by watching his father and as an Army Air Corps mechanic working on planes in Australia and the Philippines. He soon landed a job as a mechanic at Beck's Chevrolet on Princess Anne Street, and eventually went into business for himself by opening Heflin's near the farm where he'd grown up.

The business had a two-stall garage at first, plus a convenience store with a snack bar. Later additions included two larger stalls, one for grease jobs and one for trucks. All the towing was done with wreckers Heflin designed and built himself.

"Nowadays you can buy a tow truck for $50,000 to $100,000," said Bobby Burgess, a competitor who ran what's now Interstate Service Center on U.S. 17. "Back then, you made your trucks. You got the body and the winch and the booms, and you had to know welding, how strong it would be."

Burgess remembers Heflin, who died in 1992, as "an icon" in the community, a hard but fair man who earned the respect of everyone who knew him.

"You had to be hard back then," he said. "You get a tractor-trailer turned over, you had to go down there and get with it. You had to get up in the middle of the night in snow or sleet for hours at a time. In the wintertime, he'd work all night long. I've seen him look like death warmed over, come back and sit for a while and then go back out."

But Heflin, never one to show emotion, also had a softer side, said Ed Steckler, who used to work for him in the 1960s and now lives in Fernandina Beach, Fla.

"He gave me a job running wreckers, pumping gas and working on cars when no one else would," said Steckler, who admitted to being "wild" when he was younger. "I didn't have a vehicle, and he found me a '55 Chevy in Triangle. He said to work on it at night, and that's what I did. He taught me a lot. He was a super guy. I probably looked at him as a father figure."

Heflin also found time to be a life member of the Fredericksburg Rescue Squad and Falmouth Fire Department. Thad Heflin III, who was put on his father's payroll when he was 15, said they used to work at some horrible accident scenes until rescue squads began using the Jaws of Life to free people who'd been trapped.

"My father got a lifesaving award for [helping to free the driver] of a tractor-trailer that turned over in Opal," he said. "I took our Mac wrecker. I swung the boom out so my father could go into the truck. The driver's boot had caught around the clutch pedal. We did a lot of that."

Other memorable jobs include being called in to pull a train back onto the tracks near Lafayette Boulevard, and floating a wrecker on a barge in the city reservoir so it could lower a replacement valve to a Navy diver.

Over the years, the Heflins--father, son and grandson--have seen the car repair and wrecker business become more and more technical and specialized. Cars are increasingly computerized, and wreckers now use sophisticated underlifts that barely touch a car at all.

"You have to change with the times," said Thad Heflin III, who buys all of his wreckers. "My father did it, and I try to carry it on."

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407

Current, Former Employees Sue AAA Carolinas

Here's the story from the Winston-Salem Journal:


Former and current employees have sued AAA Carolinas, claiming that the travel organization discriminated against them based on race and sex.

Brendan Byrnes, a spokesman for AAA Carolinas, said yesterday that the company denies all the allegations and is prepared to fight them.

The employees who filed the lawsuit work or worked at AAA's car- care and towing services in Charlotte.

Trevor Fuller, an attorney for the employees, said that most had filed complaints first with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the EEOC issued a "right to sue" notice.

Byrnes said that AAA is aware of the complaints filed with the EEOC.

"AAA vehemently denies any such allegations, and we'll fight them in court," he said.

In the lawsuit, the workers say that less-qualified white workers were promoted over experienced black employees and that substantial pay gaps between black and white workers existed.

"AAA has used the dues collected from its members to perpetuate a regime of blatant and totalitarian racial discrimination, where complaints and resistance are not tolerated," the lawsuit says.

The employees allege that they were retaliated against if they complained about supervisor behavior.

One former employee, Eric Greene, said in the lawsuit that his car was stolen and "burnt to a crisp" after he made several complaints of discrimination.

"Defendants made clear that racial-discrimination complaints were not to be tolerated, and they reinforced this status quo through intimidation and retaliation," the lawsuit says.

In Greene's case, the lawsuit says that he was demoted after complaining in June 2008 about racial harassment by his boss.

When he filed a complaint with the EEOC, the lawsuit says that he was denied a quarterly bonus unless he withdrew the complaint.

Instead, Greene filed a second charge with EEOC that, the lawsuit says, led to a threatening letter, written anonymously and filled with profanity and a racial slur.

Greene reported the letter to AAA and met with an attorney in September 2008.

The lawsuit claims that his car was stolen later that day and when police found it, it had been set on fire. Greene was fired the next day.

One of the women participating in the lawsuit claims that another female employee was fired just days after being fondled by a company vice president.

According to the suit, the employees want the company to be forced to give black employees a chance to compete for better work and pay and to assign black workers to positions they would have attained if not for racial discrimination.

Click here to read another story from the Charlotte Observer.

NE Tow Truck Driver Struck, Injured

Best wishes for a quick recovery to 64-year-old tow truck driver Henry Chillsworth of Mike's Towing who was struck on Sunday while working to pull a car from a ditch in Omaha, NE. Here's the story from
A few hours of flurries and blowing snow Sunday led to a number of accidents on metro roads.Paramedics and Douglas County sheriff's deputies responded to an accident at Pawnee Road and Highway 275 around 1 p.m.An investigator at the scene said a van struck a tow truck driver who was pulling cars out of the ditch. Employees at Mike's Towing named the victim as Henry Chillsworth, 64. A medical helicopter crew flew Chillsworth to the Nebraska Medical Center in critical condition. He had been upgraded to fair condition by Sunday night.Two hours later, a sheriff's deputy working the scene was in his cruiser when another vehicle hit him. Paramedics took the deputy to Lakeside Hospital with minor injuries possibly involving his neck. Officials said the deputy would be fine.The Dodge County sheriff's office is advising people to stay off of Highway 30. Deputies responded to multi-car accidents in two different spots as of early Sunday afternoon. Both happened on Highway 30Deputies said white out conditions and drifting snow led to the accidents. They added people are abandoning vehicles on the highway because they can't see.Near Beatrice, blowing snow contributed to a 14-vehicle pileup on state Highway 4 that sent six people to the hospital. Rescue crews also responded to an accident on Interstate 80 near 13th Street in Omaha. Three vehicles appeared to be involved in the crash, including a semi, a car and a minivan.The car appeared mangled between the semi and the cement median. Paramedics used the jaws of life to pull one person from the car; that person was taken to a hospital with severe injuries. Electronic boards in the area advised drivers to take alternate routes as crews cleaned up the accident.Omaha Police are no longer responding to accidents unless injuries are involved.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gone Fishin' In MS

Here's the story from The Commercial Dispatch:
STARKVILLE — Dozens of Oktibbeha County residents gathered Tuesday morning at the intersection of Highway 82 and Douglastown Road with their coolers in tow as work crews cleaned up the remains of an overturned catfish truck in the median.

Bill Baker, of Eupora, was driving the B&B Farms truck westbound on Highway 82 shortly after 6 a.m. when he lost control, went into the median and hit a culvert. The overturned truck spilled thousands of catfish throughout the muddy area between the eastbound and westbound lanes.

Residents from nearby homes showed up with their coolers while police and emergency personnel responded to the scene. Dozens of people left with coolers full of fish before Mississippi Highway Patrol troopers made residents leave the median so workers from the Mississippi Department of Transportation and Starkville-based Bulldog Towing could clear the scene.

Baker suffered a contusion to his head and a cut to his back, was treated at North Mississippi Medical Center in Eupora, and returned to the site a short time later. He said he wasn't sure what caused him to veer off the highway, but does remember feeling alarmed as his truck headed into the median.

"I remember seeing that hole right there," Baker said looking down at the culvert and the remains of his load. "It will make you have a conversation with the good Lord."

Baker, who said he was still "a little dazed" three hours after the crash, was just glad nobody else was injured in the wreck.

Meanwhile, employees from Bulldog Towing pulled the truck from the rain-soaked median and MDOT workers removed catfish from the overturned containers, then tossed them into coolers, trash cans and other bins. Many of the fish were still alive.

Stewart Teague, owner of Bulldog Towing, said his company was been giving away the salvaged catfish to some of the responders at the scene, local firefighters, businesses and friends, "so they don't go to waste." He didn't mind letting local residents gather fish from the median for their own families.

"It was unbelievable how much they got," Teague said.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation, Highway Patrol Public Affairs Officer Brian Mobley said.

Mobley and other Highway Patrol troopers were directing traffic past the wreck Tuesday morning via one eastbound and one westbound lane. The Department of Environmental Quality also sent workers to clean up the fuel spill at the scene.

Tim Pratt is the Starkville Bureau Reporter for The Commercial Dispatch.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

San Antonio Suspends Another Towing Company

Here's the story from
SAN ANTONIO -- The City of San Antonio has suspended another towing company for not helping drivers fast enough.

City officials say Associated Towing Service, which takes calls on the Northwest Side, was suspended for 20 days because it was not getting the job done within the 30 minutes allowed.

"You have motorists stranded on the highway, and that's a dangerous situation," explained San Antonio Police Chief Bill McManus. "And you also have police officers who remain out of service until those wreckers get there. So, we have to have that 30-minute response time or less."

This is the second time since October that a city towing contractor has been punished.

News 4 WOAI spoke to the head of Associated Towing, who said the problems have been fixed. The company does not disagree with the suspension and will get back to work once it is lifted.

PA Tow Truck Driver Killed On Side of Road By Semi

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of 39-year-old tow truck driver Michael T. Pegg, who worked for Weavertown Towing Garage Services in Hunker, PA. He was killed on Sunday, 2/7, while working a crash scene on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Here's the story from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

A tow truck driver attending to a crash scene on the Pennsylvania Turnpike was struck and killed by an out-of-control tractor-trailer Sunday night in Mt. Pleasant Township.

Michael T. Pegg, 39, of Hempfield, an employee of Weavertown Towing Garage Services in Hunker, died at the scene of the accident in the westbound lanes of the turnpike, just 4.5 miles west of the Donegal Interchange, Westmoreland County Deputy Coroner Jerry Fritz said.

Pegg had been called to assist at an accident scene along the turnpike and was walking along the highway's berm when he was hit around 7:05 p.m., state police at New Stanton reported.

Valentine Blagoev, of Winchester, Va., was driving his tractor-trailer in the left westbound lane of the turnpike when he came upon traffic slowed for the accident, police said. Unable to stop, Blagoev struck three other vehicles before traveling onto the berm and striking Pegg.

Fritz pronounced Pegg dead at the scene. An autopsy scheduled for today will determine his cause of death.

Fritz said the roadway was dry at the time of the accident.

Sad News From CA

A CA mother and son were killed this weekend when their vehicle struck a tow truck retrieving a disabled vehicle from the side of the road. No word on whether the tow truck driver was injured. Here's the story from the Victorville Daily Press:

CAJON PASS • An Apple Valley woman and her son were killed in a Interstate 15 crash Saturday morning.

Their mini-van struck a stopped tow truck on the center divider, according to San Bernardino County San Bernardino Sheriff ’s Department officials.

Merced Molina was driving a 1999 Mercury Villager south on I-15, just north of Highway 138, with her husband and son when they struck the back of a tow truck that was attending to a disabled car.

Merced, 52, was pronounced dead on scene at 7:18 a.m., and her son Javier Molina Jr, 19, later died at Loma Linda University Medical Center at 1:36 p.m.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the accident.

SC Tow Truck Driver Injured During Crash

Wishing a speedy recovery to 37-year-old tow truck driver Joseph Barentine. Here's the story from The Beaufort Gazette:

A tow truck overturned in the southbound lane of the Broad River Bridge after it struck a construction truck about 11:30 a.m. Monday, snarling S.C. 170 traffic in both directions, said S.C. Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. Bob Beres.

Both drivers were taken by ambulance to Beaufort Memorial Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Beres said.

The tow-truck driver, Joseph Barentine, 37, of Beaufort, was admitted to the hospital. His condition was not released.

The construction-truck driver, David Green, 48, of Charleston, was treated and released.

Green's truck, a vehicle used to direct traffic with a large yellow arrow, was behind construction crews working on the bridge, Beres said. Barentine was ticketed for driving too fast for conditions, Beres said.

Emergency crews worked to clear the accident and examined evidence most of the afternoon. In the meantime, north- and southbound traffic shared the northbound side of the bridge until it was cleared. Both sides of the bridge reopened about 3 p.m., Beres said.

Cassie Foss

Monday, February 8, 2010

GA Tow Truck Driver Wounded During Robbery

Best wishes for a speedy recovery to tow truck driver Rashad Bakari Hunter of Moody's Wrecker Services. Bakari was shot in the back and hand on Sunday night (2/7).
Here's the story from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Police in College Park have released the name of the tow truck driver who was shot in an armed robbery early Sunday.

The victim was Rashad Bakari Hunter, Lt. Jose. Nevares, watch commander for the College Park Police Department, told the AJC.

Nevares said he could release no other information in the case, which is still under investigation.

WSB-TV reported on its Web site that family members of the victim said two armed robbers ambushed the driver after the company he worked for, Moody's Wrecker Services in College Park, got a call for a tow.

Nevares said the shooting occurred at 2200 Godby Rd.

When the driver arrived around 1 a.m., according to WSB-TV, a man told him to go behind an apartment complex to tow a car. When he got there, the news station reported, he was confronted by two men, one of whom pulled a gun. He fled, and was shot in the back and hand, WSB-TV reported.

Cars Falling Through Ice Keep WI Tower Busy

Here's the story from

The cars through the ice on Lake Winnebago are keeping Don Herman with Sunk Dive and Towing busy.

“I average about 30 a year, we're at number 14 already,” said Herman.

The team was on its fourth car retrieval of the day Sunday afternoon. Three of the vehicles were at Lake Winnebago, and they all fell through on Saturday. That’s a bit surprising for Herman.

“There's 21 inches of ice out on the lake,” he said.

Herman said ice conditions are actually better this year than in years past. So why are so many cars falling through the ice?

“It's gotta be inexperience I would think,” said ice fisherman Louie Cummings.

Some ice fishermen on the lake said people who aren't familiar with the lake, and don't know a lot about driving on the ice, are the ones falling through. And Herman agrees.

“They're driving where they're not supposed to be. There's cracks out there, and they jump them and they're not making it,” said Herman.

All the people in the vehicles survived without any injuries. But that isn't always the case. Just last month, 39-year-old Todd Rupert of Van Dyne died in Lake Winnebago. He was building a reef with the group Walleyes for Tomorrow when his dump truck fell through the ice; sending the message that even experienced people are susceptible to accidents.

“I've always said, the lake is never 100 percent safe,” said Herman.

But ice fisher Ken Schuh said it's rare those used to the lake would fall through. And he thinks a majority of the incidents happen because of where the people are driving.

“It's obvious you don't drive by a river, that should be a known thing for as many years as this lakes been around,” said Schuh.

Herman said those who take risks and aren't careful on the ice, could take the biggest risk of all, ending up in the water.

Friday, February 5, 2010

How A Tow Truck Is Born

Cool post on Airport Towing's blog!
Miller Industries, Inc. is the nation’s largest manufacturer of tow trucks and towing equipment. This month, some of us from Airport Towing had the opportunity to tour the factory 2,600 miles away from our Seattle area office in Ooltewah, Tennessee. The Miller facility is just outside the city of Chattanooga, where the first tow truck was invented in 1916 by Ernest Holmes. Today, Holmes is a division of Miller Industries. Miller also produces Century, Vulcan, Chevron, Challenger, Champion, Eagle, SP Series, Boniface, and Jige towing and recovery units.
Read the rest of the blog post and view all the photos by clicking here.

Arrest Made In Death Of OR Tower

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of James Wightman, who was killed on Feb. 1 in the cab of his tow truck while at Manheim San Francisco Auto Auction. Here's the story from

Police arrested a 34-year-old California man today in a double homicide in the San Francisco Bay area involving a truck driver from Southern Oregon.
Karl George Sanft.JPG Karl George Sanft
Karl George Sanft, a 34-year-old from Union City, Calif., faces murder allegations in the killing of James Wightman, a 56-year-old truck driver from Central Point, and 63-year-old Angelito Erasquin, a security guard in Hayward, Calif.

They were found stabbed multiple times on Tuesday. Police said Wightman was found dead in the cab of his idling truck in the Manheim San Francisco Bay Auto Auction in Hayward. Erasquin, a security guard at the auto auction, was found dead near the entrance.

Police said Sanft was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of car theft. They said he later confessed to the murders. They said Sanft stabbed Erasquin while breaking into the yard to steal a car. They said evidence indicated that the suspect targeted Wightman as a witness.

james Wightman.JPGJames WightmanWightman, a father and grandfather, routinely delivered cars to the auction site, which covers 73 acres in Hayward

A former colleague described him as a jokester who would often kid with dispatchers, according to a story in the Medford Mail Tribune.

Sanft is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday.

-- Lynne Terry

This is the story from Land Line Magazine about the incident:

OOIDA member stabbed to death in his tow truck

One of the two men who were stabbed to death at an auto auction lot in Hayward, CA, on Monday morning was an OOIDA member.

Police say 56-year-old James Wightman of Central Point, OR, was found in the cab of his tow truck with multiple stab wounds.

A 63-year-old uniformed security guard was also found dead near the entrance gate.

The San Jose Mercury News reported that Wightman has five children and had been trucking for 20 years. A co-worker describes him as “a jolly man.”

The manager of the tow company where he worked says Wightman made frequent trips to the auction lot to pick up or deliver cars – but on that Monday morning he was just catching some sleep in the lot.

Police aren’t discussing any possible motives – but say they have strong leads in the case.

Oldie, But A Goodie

Found this pic on the BigLorryBlog. Cool!

Here's the post:
"Hi Brian", says Mark Simiele in ( I think) Connecticut in the USA, "Thought the BLB fans would like this huge 1975 Mack DM 897SX with a 1988 45 ton Challenger boom. The striking colours, fine appearance and the fact that DMs of this type were rarely utilised as wreckers really make this truck stand out. When I photographed it in 2004 it was owned by High Point garage of Union City, NJ. However, it's now owned by Fran-Rock Garage of Suffern, NY and as of 2009 is still working. This truck started life out as a heavy haul tractor for a Philadelphia based rigger and then was converted into a long wheelbase wrecker by High Point. Enjoy!" And click on the photo for a bigger image...

Recovery Photo From Australia

Clayton’s Towing specialised recovery unit from Maleny uses its winch cable to retrieve a car that had been pushed off a Bald Knob cliff.

Surprise Recovery In SC

Here's the story from The Herald:

FORT MILL -- Days ago, Brad Tripps’ gold-colored SUV hit black ice and went into a spin. The 33-year-old Winthrop University professor’s SUV plunged through some branches anchored along a curvy Fairway Drive near Doby’s Bridge Road.

Then it hit the water.

Clutching his briefcase, Tripp managed to free himself from his 2001 gold Nissan Pathfinder.

“I am happy to be alive,” he said. “I thank God I’m alive.”

That was Monday night when parts of York County were still covered with snow and patches of black ice. Days later, Tripp returned to the site to watch a York County Emergency Rescue Team locate his SUV so it could be retrieved from the pond.

“I’m just ready to get it out of the water and move on with my life,” Tripp said.

But things didn’t go quite as expected.

The rescue team located a vehicle and notified officials.

“Car is upside down,” a member of the rescue team called from the water. “Hopefully, we can flip it.”

Later, a wrecker worked to pull the vehicle from its muddy grave. As a black car surfaced, and Tripp got a surprise.

“That’s not my car,” he said. “Now, it’s a crime scene.”

Within minutes, a black, two-door coupe was revealed.

No one was inside the mystery car that had “VTEC” on its left side and a paper tag.

The rescue team will return Friday to search for Tripp's car, and they hope to pull it from the water by Saturday.

Meanwhile, the black mystery car was towed from the scene.

Anyone with any information about the car are asked to call the Fort Mill Police Department at 547-2022.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Everyday Tow Hero In TX

Round of applause to TX tow truck driver Nick Lyons and the Fort Worth police officers who helped reunite this homeless Iraq war veteran with his mother's ashes. Here's the story from NBC Dallas-FtWorth:

An altruistic tow truck driver and devoted police officers went "above and beyond the call of duty” to reunite a despondent Iraqi War veteran with the lost ashes of his mother.

It all started with Fort Worth driver Nick Lyons, who's been towing cars long enough to know what to expect to find inside – everything from drugs to weapons to cell phones. But the box in this car stunned him.

"It was just a box with a lady's name and the date of death,” Lyons said. “And it had ashes in it, so it was obvious what it was."

He called police. Officer Weldon Walles responded.

"In 30 years of law enforcement, this is one of the most unusual calls I've ever had,” Walles said.

The officer set out to find the woman's relatives.

"Usually, these aren't police department matters, but this was something I felt was very important and we needed to reunite the family with these remains,” he said.

It wasn’t easy.

Walles knew the woman’s name and tracked down the name of her only son, but couldn’t locate him.

The officer couldn't imagine the remains sitting in the police property room, unclaimed.

"It could have been years,” he said.

Walles recruited a detective to help with the search, and finally, they found the missing son.

"The police department wasn't going to stop until we found him," Walles said.

Down on his luck, Andre Kelly is living in the Union Gospel Mission, a homeless shelter on Lancaster Avenue.

Kelly, 43, an Iraq War veteran, said he became homeless after he lost his job as a college instructor.

Police impounded his car when he was arrested on unpaid speeding tickets. The car was then repossessed because he didn’t have money to pay his loan, he said.

He said he didn’t know who to call to recover his mother's remains.

"I was really upset about it, but I didn't know what to do about it," he said.

Kelly also couldn’t find a way to tell relatives he had lost his mother’s ashes.

"I haven't told anybody,” he said. “I've been holding this in.”

With each passing day, the loss weighed heavier on him, he said.

"I've been praying on it,” he said. “And I've been saying, if you know, God's willing, it will happen. And here I am today, getting calls from Fort Worth PD."

His mother, Carol Ann Riley, died a few years ago in California of a heart attack.

The wrecker driver said he is grateful police were able to find him.

"I'm excited for the guy,” Lyons said. “That has to be quite a relief to get the remains back of your mother."

Kelly is studying to become a nurse and hopes to leave the shelter soon.

"This is the first time in my life I've been unemployed or in this situation,” he said.

Kelly thanked the police for working hard to find him.

"That's something you do above and beyond the call of duty,” he said. “Like I say, if I were in a position to do that, that I could do that and go that extra mile for someone."

Kelly plans to pick up his mother’s ashes from the police property room on Thursday and keep them at a friend’s house until he is able to leave the shelter.

"Me being her only child, she always wanted to be with me,” he said. “She said, ‘Put me in an urn and take me wherever you go.’"

Man Charged In Weekend Shooting of AL Repo Man

Here's the story from
A Birmingham man has been charged with attempted murder and robbery in connection with a shooting Saturday in Inglenook, Birmingham police announced today.

Michael Smith, 22, is accused of shooting a repo tow truck driver on 38th Street North, according to police. The victim, whose name has not been released, was grazed in the head and drove to a service station at the intersection of Tallapoosa Street and East Lake Boulevard.

The victim told police he was there to perform a simple tow job, said Sgt. Sam Noblitt. Police have not been able to confirm that, Noblitt said.

A young child was in the truck when the man was shot and was hit with glass, police said.

Cute Story on WI Tow Man's Best Friends

Wish there had been a photo with this story! Here's the Beloit Daily News story:
Hairless dogs part of family for Adcocks

Who still will be cuddly after he gets fat, loses his teeth and dangles his tongue out?

It’s a hairless dog, and he’s riding in a tow truck near you. Chris Adcock, owner of Adcock Towing and Recovery, cruises the streets of Beloit with a partially-nude Newman.

Yes, he may have a sprig of hair on his head, and a tuft on his toes and tail, but he’s all bare in the middle. Clad in pajamas and a cardigan, Chris Adcock’s friend has been riding shotgun through the snowy streets of Beloit for three winters. Those stranded on the side of the road are a bit shocked when they what looks like a troll doll staring them down, but they usually end up with a smile.

“He sits on the center console and sleeps,” Chris Adcock said. “Everybody that rides with him likes him.”

Newman has his own bed in the tow truck and the shop. Chris admits he never imagined his bare fleshed pup would become such a close friend.

“If I stay in bed, he won’t even get out,” he added.

Chris and his wife, Michelle, always loved dogs, but Chris preferred big dogs, especially his mammoth black German Shepherd named Max.

Because of Michelle’s allergies, she became entranced with hairless dogs she saw on dog shows. She heard they were very affectionate, didn’t bark much and could do tricks. One person told her their warm tummies were good for people with arthritis. So when she found a Chinese crested dog advertised in Beloit, she knew he was the one.

Her husband, however, had his doubts when he saw the hairless Newman, joking that the hairless male needed to put on a pair of pants.

“I said ‘What the heck is it and I hope it doesn’t live here,’” Chris Adcock said.

“He’s just ugly,” joked neighbor Gary Wescott.

Although Michelle said the dogs were raised to chase rats on ships, neighbor Gary said Newman was the one who looked like a rat.

But Michelle loved the cuddly and affectionate dog and set out to find his mate. After finding Sadie, for sale on Elevator Road in Roscoe in 2008, the two quickly had two male puppies — Caine and Delko.

The Chinese crested dog come in different varieties born within the same litter, depending on how much hair they have. There is the hairless, the hairy hairless and the powder puff.

The difference between a very hairy hairless and a powderpuff is that the hairless has a single coat with hairless parts on the body, while the powderpuff has a thick double coat. Caine is a hairless dog and Delko is a hairy hairless one.

After the boys were born, mother dog Sadie got sick with a third unborn puppy, and Michelle had raise the palm sized pups with the use of a heat lamp. She fed them every few hours with a bottle, forming a tight bond.

“It was like a child,” she said.

The Adcocks weren’t the only ones warming up to the skinned pooches. Gary Wescott’s family took such a liking to Sadie, they adopted her leaving the other three with the Adcocks.

These day Newman and the big dog Max hang out in the front yard together. Although the Adcock’s have heard their human like flesh need sunscreen, Newman seems to know when to get out of the sun. And as long as he has a warm sweater on, he doesn’t mind heading out in the snow to help with a tow.

Car Flips; MINI Crashes Into Tow Truck In CA

Here's the story from the Orange County Register:

COSTA MESA - A driver suffered life-threatening injuries this morning after losing control of the vehicle on a connector between the 73 and 55 freeways.

Two hours later, there was a second accident at the scene, when a car slammed into the back of a tow-truck that had been called out to the first accident.

Article Tab : A tow truck driver makes a phone call after loading the remains of a white BMW on his flat bed after a driver suffered life-threatening injuries this morning after losing control of the vehicle on a connector between the 73 and 55 freeways. While he was responding, another car ran into his tow truck.
A tow truck driver makes a phone call after loading the remains of a white BMW on his flat bed after a driver suffered life-threatening injuries this morning after losing control of the vehicle on a connector between the 73 and 55 freeways. While he was responding, another car ran into his tow truck.

In the first accident, at 5 a.m., an older-model BMW sedan drove off of the connector and landed on its roof on the southbound side of the 55, rolling several times, police said.

Several witnesses told the California Highway Patrol that the driver was thrown from the vehicle, Officer Denise Quesada said.

The driver was taken to a trauma center at a nearby hospital, said Battalion Chief Bill Kershaw of the Costa Mesa Fire Department.

Around 7:15 a.m., a Mini Cooper slammed into the back of a tow truck, crushing its front end. An ambulance was sent for the driver, whose condition was not immediately known.

The connector from the southbound 73 to the southbound 55 was closed after the second accident.

The BMW was mangled beyond recognition; debris was spread out across the freeway and onto Bristol Street.

NM Tow Truck Driver Kidnapped and Bound

Thankfully, the driver was found and unharmed after his ordeal on Jan. 28! Here's the story from KRQE News 13:

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Albuquerque police said duct tape, zip ties and a dark hood led them to a kidnapped tow truck driver on Thursday night.

On Saturday morning, the two men charged with the kidnapping met face to face with an Albuquerque Metropolitan Court Judge.

"The nature of allegations, I’m being extremely serious now, they're very serious allegations," Judge Daniel Ramczyk said.

The arrest warrant details the kidnapping of the tow truck driver, who was found bound and hooded inside a northeast Albuquerque home.

The news came as a surprise to residents who live by that house.

“After tying somebody up, I think they should keep him, keep him,” one concerned neighbor said.

In the criminal complaint, police said the victim was a Beltran Tow Truck driver. He told the officers who rescued him that he got a call Thursday night from someone needing a tow at Bob’s Burgers on Eubank and Chico.

The tow truck driver told police he and the caller met up and got out of their vehicles.

The caller told him the vehicle needing a tow was around the corner, but then shocked him with a stun gun. The driver told police another man ran up with a handgun shortly after.

Before the driver knew what happened, he had zip ties around his ankles and wrists, duct tape across his eyes and a dark hood over his head.

“The charges are kidnapping, armed robbery, aggravated battery and conspiracy,” Ramczyk said.

Someone noticed something wasn’t right and called 911.

Officers said when they showed up, they found the tied up driver inside a northeast Albuquerque house. He was being watched by Steve Arellanes, 40, and Bernardo Escobedo, 28.

Saturday morning Arellanes asked the judge to set him free without bond. The judge made it clear that wasn’t going to happen.

“You must be making a feeble attempt at humor,” Ramczyk said.

The judge kept the bond for both men at $100,000 cash only.

News 13 tried contacting the tow truck company Saturday, but no one wanted to comment.

Effective Immediately: DOT Bans Commercial Truck, Bus Drivers From Texting Behind the Wheel

Posted by Al Tompkins at 12:01 AM on Jan. 27, 2010
The U.S. Department of Transportation issued a sweeping rule on Tuesday that bans commercial truck and bus drivers nationwide from texting while driving. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia already ban all drivers from texting while operating a vehicle.

The DOT news release explained the rule, which took effect immediately:

" 'We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe,' said Secretary Ray LaHood. 'This is an important safety step and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving.'

"The action is the result of the Department’s interpretation of standing rules. Truck and bus drivers who text while driving commercial vehicles may be subject to civil or criminal penalties of up to $2,750.

" 'Our regulations will help prevent unsafe activity within the cab,' said Anne Ferro, Administrator for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). 'We want to make it crystal clear to operators and their employers that texting while driving is the type of unsafe activity that these regulations are intended to prohibit.' "

The Associated Press said

"The prohibition doesn't apply to onboard devices that allow dispatchers to send text messages to truck drivers, but most of those devices have mechanisms that prevent their use while a truck is in motion, said Clayton Boyce, a spokesman for the American Trucking Association.

"The trucking industry supports limiting the use of electronic devices that distract drivers, Boyce said.

... "Research by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shows that drivers who send and receive text messages take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds out of every 6 seconds while texting, the department said. At 55 miles per hour, this means that the driver is traveling the length of a football field, including the end zones, without looking at the road, the department said."

Last year, CNN reported:

"Truckers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to crash or get into a near-wreck than an undistracted driver, while car drivers face the greatest danger when dialing their cell phones, a transportation study found.

"The likelihood of a crash due to cell-phone use disproportionately affected truckers in comparison with car drivers, according to the study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

"When dialing, the chance of an accident for a truck driver is 5.9 times more likely versus 2.8 times more likely for a car driver, the study found. If a trucker reaches for an electronic device, the crash risk is 6.7 times as high, while the risk for a car driver is 1.4 times as high, it showed.

"Truckers only fared better while talking or listening on a cell phone, with the increased risk one time more likely compared with 1.3 times for a car driver.

"Researchers viewed video footage from cameras inside of vehicles to look at how drivers engaged with the road while using their cell phones, said Rich Hanowski, director of the transportation institute's Center for Truck and Bus Safety. The study was based on research from 2004 to 2007, he said."

South San Francisco Towing Cos. Shell Out $24,900 To Settle Lawsuit

Here's the story from
REDWOOD CITY — Two South San Francisco towing companies accused of intentionally overcharging customers who wanted their cars back have agreed to pay $24,900 in civil penalties and restitution, a prosecutor said Thursday.

P&S Towing, which was a contractor for the California Highway Patrol, and South City Tow Inc. tacked on a "pullout" fee of roughly $100 to the bill of people or insurance companies that were picking up a car between January 2008 and February 2009, said San Mateo County deputy district attorney Chuck Finney. But that fee was illegal, and the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office, along with the CHP, sued the companies, attorneys said.

The businesses, which have separate owners but operate out of the same facility, settled the suit Thursday but have not admitted wrongdoing, attorneys said. They will have to shell out $4,900 in restitution to customers and pay $20,000 in civil penalties.

"It's just an attempt to get around a provision that was established by the CHP for the benefit of the public," Finney said. "That was a violation."

The fee was apparently to cover the cost of transporting a vehicle from the back to the entrance of the companies' storage yard in San Bruno, Finney said. But that kind of charge is prohibited by South San Francisco city rules and the towing agreement P&S had with the CHP, according to court documents. Authorities began investigating the companies after a tow-truck

driver who picked up a car at the lot complained to police that the fee might be illegal.

South City Tow's attorney, Geoffrey Rotwein, said his clients were not being dishonest; there was simply a misunderstanding about what fees could be charged. He said the affected clients have gotten their money back.

"There is no evidence of dishonesty," he said. "It was a business decision that turned out not to be correct."

P&S Towing's attorney, William McLaughlin, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Farewell, Friend

Our condolences to the family and acquaintances of New Zealand tower Jay Harris who died on Jan. 20 from a heart attack. Harris, 61, was the co-owner of Ace Towing Company of Grey Lynn.
Here's the story from the NZ Herald News:

Tow truck driver Jay Harris enjoyed speedway and stockcars, and was happy chewing the fat with his tattooed biker mates at kickboxing fights.

But he was also an old-school romantic who would buy flowers and open doors for women.

Mr Harris, co-owner of the Ace Towing Company in Grey Lynn, died of a heart attack last Wednesday. He was 61.

A large cross-section of the community including financiers, accountants, patched members of the Headhunters motorcycle club, martial artists, speedway and stockcar personalities and the everyday folk Mr Harris knew, gathered at his rural home near Rangiriri for his funeral service yesterday.

His close friend Mark Barrack said his mate, who had stints working in the tyre industry, as a carpenter and as a water meter man with the Auckland City Council, was "without doubt, the kindest guy you could ever meet".

"He was a good mate, you wouldn't hear a bad word about this guy, in fact, I don't know anyone who hated him," said Mr Barrack.
CCID: 28439

The pair, who were once tow truck competitors and had a long involvement with speedway races at Western Springs going back to the 1970s, became business partners when they bought the Ace Towing Company in the mid-1980s.

Mr Barrack said Mr Harris did not smoke, drink and "hated drugs" but had a fondness for lollies and would keep a full jar on his desk.

The president of the Headhunters motorcycle club, Wayne Doyle, said he had known Mr Harris for at least 30 years.

He would often take his children out to Mr Harris' property to ride on his tractor. He said Mr Harris would look after people and "look after them well".

Michael Harris, the eldest of his six children, said his father was a caring, loyal and generous person, who would often help out complete strangers.

At a recent Rotorua speedway meeting, Mr Harris bought tickets for a couple of random children who did not have enough money to get in to the event.

"The thing is he would do kind things like this every day," Michael Harris said.

Apparently renowned as a ladies' man, Mr Harris got his partner Dianne's phone number after she bought a car and picked it up from his yard last year.

About an hour later he asked her out on their first date.

"He was full of compliments, always opened doors and bought me flowers.

"He made me feel like a princess," she said.

"We shared a fairy tale relationship that few people experience in their lives."

Headhunters on motorbikes followed by several of Mr Harris' tow trucks led the hearse carrying his body back along State Highway One to Auckland where he was cremated.
By James Ihaka

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sad News From GA

A young mother was among two killed after being struck by an oncoming tow truck.
Here's the story from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
A little before 8 p.m. Saturday night, Angel Woah called her fiance to inform him that she was in a minor wreck.

A few hours later, Robert Giles learned that Woah, 23, was clinging to life at Grady Memorial Hospital. She died early Sunday morning, one of two women killed after being struck by an oncoming tow truck outside their parked cars on I-20 East near the Downtown Connector.

Satonya Cleveland, 35, of Lithonia, was killed at the scene, the Fulton County Medical Examiner's office confirmed to the AJC.

Woah's future father-in-law, Antony Bordoli, told the AJC that the impact from the crash left little hope that the Snellville woman would survive.

"They immediately had to remove part of her right lung," Bordoli said. "She never regained consciousness."

The "energetic, well-liked" mother of an 11-month-old daughter was on her way home from a hairstyling appointment, Bordoli said.

The fatal crash occurred just after 8 p.m., Atlanta Police spokesman Eric Schwartz said. APD officers, who responded to six other accidents Saturday night on I-20, believe foul weather may have been a factor.

Traffic in both directions of I-20 came to a standstill for nearly two hours as police dealt with the deadly accident.

No charges have been filed against the tow truck driver. The incident remains under investigation, Schwartz said.

KS City Tow Truck Driver Hurt In Hit-And-Run

Best wishes for a speedy recovery to this unnamed Kansas City tow truck driver who was hurt on Sunday, 1/31/10. Here's the short story from KMBC-TV9:
Police said a tow truck driver was injured in an early morning hit-and-run crash in Kansas City.The driver was struck near 31st and Broadway streets at about 3:00 a.m. Officers said he was expected to recover.Police have not released a description of the vehicle that hit the truck driver. They have not released the victim's name,